Incompetent interpreter in a criminal procedure

Incompetent interpreter in a criminal procedure

Incompetent interpreter in a criminal procedure with a non-native speaker as defendant

One would think that in Germany English-interpretation in a criminal procedure should not be a problem.

Unfortunately my experience tells otherwise.

I will never forget the criminal procedure, where the judge asked the defendant whether he knows the witness – a plain-clothes policeman who had tried to sell him drugs. The defendant – an African citizen – said in English in a defiant voice: „I know him, right?“ Which was translated into German: „I know him very well!“

It was not only a nuance which was wrong. The whole essence of the answer was interpreted in a totally wrong way! And the judge would not even realize it!

Do not expect German judges or prosecutors to speak proper English. In general I am often shocked how downright lousy the knowledge of basic English in Germany is. So as a result, the opposite side – judges, prosecutors – will often not even be aware that something is wrong with the interpretation. And even if they do, they often do not care. 

The work of an incompetent interpreter can make your chance much dimmer in a criminal procedure – right from the beginning. 

You should avoid such unfairness by hiring a lawyer for yourself who speaks your language. Not just a bit. Properly. Who understands nuance. And who can discern when the incompetent interpreter makes a mistake. And protect you against the consequences of such amateur work. 

If you have an issue in German criminal law and need a competent, committed and discreet defender, you can contact us here.

Dr. Donat Ebert

Ügyvéd - Rechtsanwalt (HU, D)

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